Sunday, March 31, 2013

Springtime Closeups with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7

I'm preparing to leave on a trip to Japan (will be back by the time this posts), and plan to rely heavily on my new LX7 for shooting while I'm there. Yes, I'll have other equipment with me, but the LX7 will likely get a lot of use.
I'll also be shooting my M9 a lot, and my Skeletons From The Closet camera for March, the Ikonta, when I get the chance. Neither of these has closeup capability, which I frequently find useful on travel. So, I decided to play around a little with shooting closeups last night.
Since Spring is officially here, I grabbed a low-hanging branch of blossoms from a neighborhood tree. Yes, I know, if everyone did it, that would be bad. Not everyone will. And I will only do it once a year. :)
Anyway, here are a couple of results:
Spring Traditions, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 200, f2.1, 1/40 sec.
"Bokeh" of Flowers, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 200, f1.5, 1/60 sec.
I have to admit, I stole the name "Bokeh" of Flowers from a commenter on Google+. If you don't know, "bokeh" is a Japanese word for "out of focus areas." It's broadly (too broadly) used in the camera tech world.
I like the second shot much more than the first. The regular patterned background of the cloth that the vase was sitting on works for me, just out of focus. The opening in the vase provides a second area of interest that doesn't compete too much with the blossoms. Both of these shots felt better in square format than rectangular.
Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about the LX7 being along with me on this trip.
And don't forget! I wrote an ebook about the LX7 which can be yours for only $2.99! Thirty pages of time-saving hints and details. See the Amazon link below, or search for "DMC-LX7" under Books on Amazon. Support your friendly blogger!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park - Lumix In The Desert

Prickly, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f4.5, 1/500 sec
Desolate, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 160, f5.6, 1/250 sec
The detail in the twisted tree in the foreground contrasts nicely with the smooth, weather-worn cliffs. The dry riverbed gives the eye something to follow.
Namesake Joshua Trees, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 Lens at 162mm
iso 200, f8, 1/160 sec
The space between features at Joshua Tree makes composition a challenge. In this case, I decided to shoot from afar with the 100-300mm, to compress the Joshua Trees a little closer together in perspective.
I decided to put the 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit on and shoot some macros:
Wood Detail, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso 200, f5.6, 1/25 sec
Monarch's Demise, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso 200, f5.6, 1/30 sec

Radial, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso 200, f4, 1/320 sec
Miniature Flower, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso 200, f4, 1/200 sec

Skeleton, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso 200, f11, 1/60 sec
Wherever there is water, life abounds. These are fan palms at a small spring.
Fan Palms, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 Lens at 300mm
iso 200, f5.6, 1/200 sec
Ocotillo, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso 200, f4.5, 1/800 sec

My trip was a little early in the year for the short-lived desert bloom. The ocotillo (above) was well on its way, though.
The desert is an amazing place to shoot. It's challenging. You really have to tune in to see what to photograph. I find it stimulating. It stretches me beyond my normal shooting situations, which is always a good thing.
Earth's Spine, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5 Lens
iso 200, f5.6, 1/640 sec

Split Rock, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5 Lens
iso 200, f11, 1/320 sec

Window To The Horizon, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5 Lens
iso 200, f11, 1/200 sec
Wispy Clouds, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5 Lens
iso 200, f8, 1/320 sec
This little guy is called a side-blotched lizard:
Side-Blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana), by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 Lens at 300mm
iso 200, f8, 1/1600 sec
Even though it was only about 75 degrees fahrenheit on this day, as the sun rose directly overhead at mid-day, it was brutal. I got sunburned much more quickly than I expected. I also stepped off the trail, and got myself into a walk several miles longer than planned. The desert is no place to mess around. Stay on the trail. Period.
Mid-day Shadows, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5 Lens
iso 160, f16, 1/200 sec
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the desert. I will take any opportunity to go back and shoot here again.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Monochrome Monday on Zoeica Images Blog

Image Source:
I just found Chris Williams' blog, Zoeica, this morning. Chris and I share a lot of interests - photography, blogging, music. He's an actual musician, while I'm merely a dedicated fan. It also seems that Chris is based in DC, so we live in the same general area.
Chris has a weekly feature on his blog, which he calls Monochrome Monday. Very cool. The shot above is from an abandoned house somewhere in West Virginia.
(Click Here) to see Chris' blog, Zoeica.
I sent Chris an email. Hopefully we can meet up at some point.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Low Tech Wonders - Polaroid Is Back!

My parents recently sent me an old Polaroid 103 camera. Mom found it in an antique store and gave me a call. I quickly looked up the model (103), and found a post about how to convert it to modern batteries. For ~$25, I said yeah, send it on over!
(Click Here) to read how to do that.
In my case, I decided to use a mini battery box from Radio Shack, which uses two AAA batteries. It (barely) fits inside the old battery compartment.
Next challenge - film. Not really a challenge at all. It turns out that Fuji still sells pack film, and at a very reasonable price (~$1 per shot). I bought a pack of iso3000 (!) black and white film on Amazon and gave it a try. Wow! It works!
Here's my camera:
My Polaroid 103, by Reed A. George
I find that my Polaroid underexposes in general, so I've put a filter over the "electronic eye," which is the light meter sensor (that little circle next to the taking lens in the picture above). This allows me to get within the exposure adjustment range, though I still have it pegged at "Lighter."
It is great fun to pull out the film after exposing, count 20 or 25 seconds, and rip it open! Even my daughter, born well into the digital age, thinks it's pretty cool.
I've scanned a few images on my Epson scanner, but not with good results. I tried it quickly, and need to spend more time. I found that it showed every little piece of dust in a bad way. I'm sure I can perfect my technique.
I also bought a pack of iso100 color film. I'll wait until spring to give that a try.
In the meantime, here's a gorgeous Polaroid shot by photographer Konstantin Mihov:
(Click Here) to go to Konstantin's blog.
I'm looking forward to some low tech photography with this beautiful old camera!
Dig out your old Polaroid camera (I'm sure someone in your family has one). And buy your film through my link to Amazon below!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pascal Vossen on - Traveling Sri Lanka with Leica M and Medium Format (Contax 645)

Steve Huff always has great guest writers on his blog. I found Pascal Vossen's review of the experience of traveling Sri Lanka with both a Leica M (M7) and medium format camera (Contax 645) very interesting. I am traveling to Japan again soon, and plan on taking my Leica M9 and a medium format camera, most likely my old Zeiss 6x6 folder with Tessar f2.8 lens.
(Click Here) to read Pascal's travel story on
Pascal mentions the normal reasons for carrying a Leica M on travel - image quality, size, unobtrusive appearance (though he mentions sometimes taping over the "Leica" logo to hide the name), fast and accurate focus, and quiet shutter. I find the part about the camera being unobtrusive interesting. I have had some pretty sketchy-looking characters ask me if that's a Leica, etc. I've even had people follow me to ask the question. And, Pascal carries his gear in a Billingham Hadley Pro bag - definitely not unobtrusive. If you get near an educated camera thief, Billingham will definitely attract them. Billingham bags cost more than some cameras.
Anyway, Pascal chose to carry three M lenses: a 28mm f2, 50mm f1.4 Aspheric Summilux, and a 15mm Voigtlander Heliar. It seems that the 15mm was included on a whim.
Now for the medium format kit. Pascal carried a Contax 645 with a Zeiss T* 80mm f2 lens. This allowed a minimum of lens changes in the field. Since the Contax was intended for two purposes, portraits (presumably including some environment around the subject) and landscapes, the 80mm "normal" length for the 6x4.5 cm format was a good compromise.
Pascal described that he would typically pick a Sri Lankan village and spend a couple of hours walking it, shooting mostly with his M7. Periodically, he would approach people he met along the way, engaging them in conversation, and shooting portraits with the Contax.
Pascal's only regret was that he didn't bring a medium format camera with a larger negative (6x4.5 is the smallest format on 120 film). Other options include the square format 6x6, and rectangular formats of 6x7, 6x8, and 6x9. As negative size increases, so does the overall quality of the image. It's sort of like getting more pixels on a full frame digital sensor for those of you who didn't come from the film world. However, as size goes up, so does the amount of time you spend changing film rolls. You can typically get in 16 shots of 6x4.5, only 8 shots of 6x9.
On my upcoming trip, my Zeiss folder will give me 12 shots of 6x6 square format. My folder has the advantage of being very compact compared to Pascal's Contax. On the other hand, it is 100% manual, including guess focusing. I'll have to bring some form of external rangefinder, which could be my Lumix DMC-LX7 even. It will be fun to shoot the old folding Zeiss, bellows and all, in Japan. However, like Pascal, I will mostly rely on my Leica M.
Go read Pascal's post at the link above. There are some great pictures there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When the Inner and Outer Worlds Converge

I read a thoughtful post, about the simultaneous exploration of the outer world and the inner world of the photographer himself (or herself) in the making of photographs, on Otto Von Munchow's blog.
(Click Here) to read the entire post on, including some thoughts from Henri Cartier-Bresson, a master of sharing the inner and outer worlds and where they converge.
One of the concepts that Munchow brings up is "tunnel vision," the exclusive focus that one gets when fully absorbed in photography. He mentions that when he achieves this state, he can be sure that there will be some good images in whatever he's taken. But, he cannot usually say which ones, until he reviews them.
I am very different in that way. I certainly experience this focus on the subject, process, and myself - "tunnel vision." However, I usually know which images are going to be the best from the set, even when I'm shooting film and cannot review them on the spot. Of course, there are sometimes surprises, both positive and negative. Those "missed the focus by that much" to use Maxwell Smart's expression (sorry, it's an old TV show, called "Get Smart"), and those rare images that didn't make an impression while shooting but just jump out at you when you see them developed. However, I can usually pinpoint the three or four best shots before seeing them.
Below is a case in point. I was initially attracted to the water droplets on this lotus leaf. As I was working on different angles and approaches, the shadows and textures became much more apparent. In fact, the line of the shadow taking on approximately the shape of a yin-yang symbol finally popped into my head, and I captured it. To me, this embodies how I felt about this place, this moment, and myself, photographing lotuses on the grounds of a Buddhist temple. I knew I liked this one before reviewing it.
Lotus Leaf and Water, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, 24-85mm f2.8-4 Lens
iso 100, f16, High Dynamic Range (HDR) composite of three exposures

Monday, March 25, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - March's Summilux 35mm with Acoustic Burgoo at the Opera House

Rudy, Erik, and Melissa of Acoustic Burgoo, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Lens
iso 1250, f 1.7, 1/60 sec
I don't usually get out for live music on weeknights, but The Acoustic Burgoo, one of my very favorite local bands, is the Artist in Residence at the Shepherdstown, West Virginia Opera House this month. They're playing a show every Thursday in March.
(Click Here) to go to the Burgoo's website. If you live near DC and like live music, you've gotta see them. They have a wide musical base (most of the first set was Hank Williams tunes last night), and are incredibly talented.
(Click Here) to see the Opera House's website. A great little venue.
Before the Show, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Lens
iso 1250, f 2, 1/60 sec
Dedicated Fan, Rachael, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Lens
iso 1250, f 1.4, 1/180 sec
This was a show where I really needed the fast aperture of the Summilux f1.4. You can see that the Summilux is a little soft (also known as the "Leica glow") at f1.4 and f1.7. I actually really like that look for some images, not for others. By f2, it's quite sharp.
Shooting the M9 at iso 1250, which I consider to be about the maximum truly useful iso for the M9, always presents a little challenge. I found an interesting set of forum discussions about the M9 being essentially an "iso-less" camera. The idea is that the amount of light hitting the sensor (number of photons) is not affected by iso settings. It is only determined by f-stop and shutter speed. Raising the iso setting only increases the gain of the sensor, which also increases noise. So, some people believe in keeping iso low, underexposing, and increasing exposure in post-processing (in Lightroom in my case). Here's a quote and source:
"This is not actually the case with the M9. The M9 is essentially an ISO-less camera. Pushing ISO 160 three stops in Lightroom 4 yields as good, if not better, results than using ISO 1250. Of course, the more light you get to the sensor, the better, but raising ISO in camera is not actually necessary, in terms of IQ. Granted, if you don't raise ISO in camera, you won't have a usable review image on the camera's LCD, so it may not always be practical."
(Click Here) to read the thread on this subject on getdpi forums.
I shot all of my images last night at iso 1250, but even at f1.4, I had to underexpose some to get the shutter speed I wanted. So, I had to increase exposure in Lightroom on most of them. The third image was the most extreme example. Shooting where I was literally in the dark, I didn't notice that my shutter speed was set at 1/180. So, I really underexposed that shot. I boosted it 2 full stops in Lightroom, and don't think it suffered too much.
One of the things I find is that adjusting the blacks in Lightroom so that you have some true blacks in your image, significantly reduces the appearance of noise.
In any case, it was a blast seeing the Burgoo and shooting the M9 and Whole Lotta Leica lens for this month. More to come with the Summilux!
By the way, on the way home I was pulled over for doing 68 mph in a 50 zone. The officer told me he was going to his car to write the citation, then came back and told me since I had a good driving record he would reduce it to a warning. Thank you very much, officer! I got home feeling like it must be my lucky day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Skeletons From The Closet - Final Results From the Super Ricohflex, February's Camera

Dwayne and Jared of The Woodshedders, by Reed A. George
Super Ricohflex TLR, Kodak Tmax 400
I shot a few images of The Woodshedders playing in the Lovettsville, Virginia library a couple of weeks back. It was tough focusing the Ricohflex with so little light, and I didn't get it spot on. But, I love the images anyway.
Jesse, Dwayne, Jared, and Dave, by Reed A. George
Super Ricohflex TLR, Kodak Tmax 400
I did a few test shots, and see that the Ricohflex's focus is not perfectly adjusted close up. It does fine at a little distance, and with an aperture smaller than about f5.6 or so. These were shot wide open (f3.5).
I enjoyed using the Super Ricohflex in February, and it's safely stored back in the closet until next time.
Hope you enjoyed the results!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review and Sample Photos from Lumix DMC-LX7 on Entropic Remnants

John Griggs has posted an impressive review of the little Lumix DMC-LX7 on his blog, Entropic Remnants.
(Click Here) to read John's full review and see lots of great low-light image samples.
I very much like the style of John's review. He's to the point, honest, as well as being an obviously-talented photographer. He didn't take the easy route in this review. He took the small-sensored LX7 deep inside a dark factory environment, and came out with some awesome pictures.
John always shoots raw files, and is not shy about admitting that he post-processes in Lightroom to the extent needed. In addition to hitting some of the main features of the LX7 - the fast 1.4 Pana-Leica lens, built-in ND filter, and aperture ring (like a real camera!), John points out any deficiencies when he sees them. The only one that jumped out at me is that the lens can be flare-prone.
John finds iso 400 to be the "quality limit" of iso on the LX7, and is quite happy with 16x20 prints shot at iso 400. He mentions that 800 is usable. He also demonstrates high dynamic range (HDR) images and a macro shot from the LX7.
I have recently purchased the LX7 myself, and am in the process of becoming familiar with it. Part of that process is working through all of the settings that I find important for real world use. I'm documenting that, and will make it available in ebook form in the coming weeks.
My ebook is now available in Kindle format at Amazon:
(Click Here) to buy the LX7 Real World Setting Guide for $2.99, or borrow it for FREE if you're an Amazon Prime member. I would really appreciate a positive review of the book on Amazon, if you can spare the time.
I am also about to spend some quality time with the LX7 on my upcoming trip to Japan. I've decided to carry my M9 and Whole Lotta Leica lens (the Summilux 35mm f1.4), my Skeletons From The Closet camera (Zeiss Ikonta medium format folder), and the LX7. The LX7 will be responsible for most of my daily shooting, all closeups, etc. So, I hope to have something to show.
Having a fast f1.4 lens really extends the range of the LX7. Here's a shot from the interior of an airplane that I recently shot:
James Bond in Sepia, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, Sepia-toned jpg
iso 200, f1.4, 1/60 sec
I'm very pleased to be able to shoot at iso200 in a dark airplane interior.
I'm really looking forward to pushing the LX7 to some limits on my upcoming trip.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - More February Results From the W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 - Musical Benefit for a Friend

Furnace Mountain Band - Benefit for a Friend, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5
iso 1250, f2.5, 1/45 sec
The Furnace Mountain Band recently played a benefit concert for a friend in need. Held at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Virginia, it was a nice family event for young to old. Unfortunately, fiddler extraordinaire David VanDeventer was at home with a sick child that night, but the show did go on.
Furnace Mountain Band - Benefit for a Friend, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5
iso 1250, f2.5, 1/45 sec
Furnace Mountain Band - Benefit for a Friend, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5
iso 1250, f2.5, 1/45 sec
Shooting in the low house lights of this venue without a flash was a stretch for the little f2.5 Nikkor. As you can see, I shot at iso 1250, which barely allowed a fast enough shutter speed for handheld shooting (1/45 sec.) with the lens wide open. Even then, the shots were pretty underexposed and needed a boost in exposure in post-processing. This is a recipe for making digital noise come through, and it did. Converting to black and white helps by eliminating color noise. I also added a little grain in Lightroom, which makes the noise feel a little more like grain from a fast film like TriX. But, again, it was a stretch with this equipment. I wouldn't want to make large prints of these.
This reminds me why I love really fast lenses, like March's Whole Lotta Leica selection, the Summilux 35mm f1.4.
But, there's nothing wrong with a challenge now and then.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whole Lotta Leica - February Results - W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 With The Woodshedders at Lovettsville Library

The Woodshedders at Lovettsville Library, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f3.5, 1/60 sec
One of the benefits of living in Northern Virginia for me is the vibrant local music scene. The Woodshedders are one of my very favorite bands in the area. Ryan Mayo (bass), Jesse Shultaberger (drums), Dwayne Brooke (guitar), Jared Pool (mandolin) and Dave VanDeventer (fiddle) usually play to larger crowds in nightclubs and music festivals.
(Click Here) to go to the Woodshedders web page. Don't pass up a chance to see them.
On this particular Saturday in February, they played an acoustic show for the local library in Lovettsville, Virginia. The Hello Kitty and Spongebob balloons on the wall are not part of their normal stageshow.
My daughter and I attended this show, and it was wonderful, as expected. My February Whole Lotta Leica lens, the W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM, worked quite well for this close up and intimate setting.
The Woodshedders at Lovettsville Library, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f2.8, 1/125 sec
Dwayne and Jared, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f2.8, 1/125 sec
The audience was a mix of regular Woodshedders' fans, and regular library patrons. The picture below shows that some kids really know how to mix their sources of entertainment.
Reading (and Music) Are Fundamental, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4, 1/30 sec
I like how the Nikkor allowed me to focus on the detail of the book page, rendering it sharply, yet include enough in the background to let you know what's happening back there. The 35mm focal length gives a wide enough field of view to include some context, even in a small room.
I now know the Woodshedders well enough to coerce them into a posed shot once in a while. I thought it would be fun to get a shot of them studiously reading in the library. I started off by handing them children's books, but a helpful library employee quickly gathered biographies of musicians - much more appropriate.
Saturday Afternoon With The Woodshedders at the Library #1, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4.8, 1/30 sec
Jared took a book on Monk, Dwayne - Django, of course, Ryan - Mick Jagger, Dave - Jimi Hendrix, and Jesse - Sting.
Standing on a chair, I closed down the lens to f 4.8 to get a little more depth of field, and shot.
Saturday Afternoon With The Woodshedders at the Library #2, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, W-Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4.8, 1/30 sec
I always feel a little rushed when I have five people waiting for me to get the shot so they can go on their way. I think these shots turned out well, but I must admit that I held my breath until I got home and checked that I was able to get all of the band members' faces in focus. I should have taken a shot or two at iso 1250, with the aperture closed down another full stop. That would have ensure that no one's face came out blurry. But, I got lucky with f4.8.
For me, it's important to learn from each and every photo opportunity. Learning to slow down, make sure I've got the shot, and not be shy about directing my subjects to do what I want to capture are all lessons that I need to continue to focus on.
After shooting live music for a couple of years now, I am really enjoying the chance to shoot some more personal shots of the bands that I really like. It adds nicely to the stage shots that I've focused on so far.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great Blue Heron Nesting - Nikon 500mm f4, Nikon D300, and Lumix DMC-G3

I got the rare opportunity to get reasonably close to a rookery of nesting great blue herons yesterday. A local real estate developer opened their undeveloped property to nature enthusiasts, at an event they called HeronFest. It was a very nice event for birdwatchers and nature photographers, getting us close enough to shoot (with long lenses) without disturbing the nesting birds.
I took out my Nikon Ais-P 500mm f4 manual focus lens, Nikkor 1.4x tele-converter, and two bodies - the Nikon D300 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3. With the D300, I think my equivalent focal length was about 1000mm, with f5.6 (due to the one stop loss of the tele-converter). With the G3, I got an amazing equivalent field of view of 1400mm, with the same f5.6!
I took the G3 along almost as an afterthought. I wasn't sure how it would perform with a tele-extender, a lens adapter, and manual focus. It turns out that the manual focus aid in the G3 (where it magnifies a portion of the image to allow more accurate focusing) works wonderfully with this big lens setup. I'm pretty pleased with the results.
Nesting Great Blue Herons, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Nikkor Ais-P 500mm f4 + 1.4X tele-extender
iso 400, f5.6, 1/640 sec.
It was an overcast day, which is a mixed blessing and curse. It allowed for nice even lighting, but very little dramatic contrast. The colors of the birds rendered nicely, but the sky (the only background available) was milky white and ugly. I guess it worked out okay.
Herons Building Their Nest, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Nikkor Ais-P 500mm f4 + 1.4X tele-extender
iso 400, f5.6, 1/640 sec.
I love the composition of the shot above. Unfortunately, it's a pretty major crop from the original, and would not print well above about 8"x12" or so. Most of the others are closer to full frame, and would print well.
Here are a couple of shots from the Nikon D300.
Herons Building Nests, by Reed A. George
Nikon D300, Nikkor Ais-P 500mm f4 + 1.4X tele-extender
iso 800, f5.6, 1/750 sec.

The shot above reminds me of an Audubon painting. He always caught interesting bird poses. I heard some time back that Audubon was a "shotgun naturalist," sometimes killing the birds he wanted to paint, and posing them as he saw fit. Rest assured, none of the birds in my pictures were injured.
The D300 handles high iso better than the G3. But, the gap is narrowing. In fact, I wonder if the new DMC-GH3 doesn't perform better than the D300, which is a few versions old for Nikon. The D300 is a very nice camera, which is really meant as a backup to my D700 (one of my very favorite cameras). However, the D300 has a smaller sensor, which has the benefit of extending the telephoto effect based on the crop factor. I knew I would need all the reach I could get, so chose the D300 over the D700 for this shoot.
Nesting Pair, by Reed A. George
Nikon D300, Nikkor Ais-P 500mm f4 + 1.4X tele-extender
iso 800, f8, 1/1000 sec.

I like how the flying bird's head is contrasted against the shadow under his wing in the shot above. It was the best I could do with a pure white sky. I used f8 to attempt to get a little more depth of field, which is hard to accomplish at 1000mm!
Delivering Nesting Material, by Reed A. George
Nikon D300, Nikkor Ais-P 500mm f4 + 1.4X tele-extender
iso 800, f8, 1/1000 sec.
We got a few glimpses of sunlight toward the end of the event. This shot was taking during one of those brief shining moments. I like the tension of the two birds placed diagonally in the shot, looking at each other.
These shots, and a couple of additonal ones, can be seen on my other website,
(Click Here) to go to the HeronFest photo set on

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Colin Steel Writes About the "Year Old" Fujifilm Model X10 on Steve Huff Photo

Colin Steel has written an informative post on Steve Huff's blog, about the virtues of taking advantage of extremely low prices on last year's camera models, in his case the Fujifilm X10.
(Click Here) to read Colin's post on
Colin picked his X10 up for the equivalent of $350 US. This reminds me of my own recent purchase of the Lumix DMC-LX7 for less than $300. There are some amazing deals out there. Amazon is a great place to find them (hint hint - use my link below).
Colin finds the power-on switch in the X10, which is linked to twisting the lens zoom ring, very fast and elegant. He has perfected his technique to end the power-on motion at 35mm focal equivalent for fast shooting.
All of these small sensor cameras suffer from the inability to get extremely shallow depth of field. Colin is not concerned with this, as he likes lots of depth of field. In fact, Colin mentions a discussion with Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos, who uses f11 or at most f8 for much of his shooting with the Leica M9, so that he can be free to arrange the compositional features within the frame, rather than relying on (or dealing with) out of focus features.
Colin finds the dynamic range on the X10 to be pretty good.
While the X10 has an optical viewfinder (rare on small cameras, and very important in my estimation), Colin finds that he composes most of his images on the LCD. This would not work for me. Colin says that he adapts to each camera, and composes more through the viewfinder on the Fuji X100 for example. The X100 has a much better finder than the X10.
I find it very interesting to read Colin's impressions of the X10. I certainly agree with him that there are some amazingly good cameras that happen to be last year's models for prices that are difficult to pass up.
Here's a shot I made with the Lumix DMC-LX7 last week.
Agitated Airline Customers, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, out of camera jpeg
Please use this link to find your own deal on last year's camera model!

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Real World Guide is Available on the Amazon Kindle Store! $2.99 or Free for Prime Members!

Want to learn how to quickly set up and use your DMC-LX7 without wading through >200 pages of Panasonic user manual? I have finished writing my guide for how I set up and use my Lumix DMC-LX7. It's now available on Amazon.

I share exactly how I set up the camera for street photography, travel, and macro, and explain many of the less-obvious functions of the camera.
(Click Here) (or use the Amazon link below) to buy it for $2.99, or borrow it for free if you're an Amazon Prime member. It's currently available in Amazon's Kindle format. After 90 days I may make it available in other formats.
By the way, $2.99 is the lowest price that Amazon allows. I want it to be affordable, and I also want to
have the convenience of using Amazon's automatic distribution. Twenty pages of information for $2.99 seems reasonable.
I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 - A Few Creative Control Examples

The Lumix LX7 is quite a little camera. With the small sensor size, which makes it possible to produce an amazingly well-featured camera with great fast optics in a very compact package, I usually shoot raw images, so that I can later control the noise levels in post-processing. Hold that that.
The LX7 has a plethora of built-in artistic and creative modes, as is common with many compact cameras. Here's the difference - the LX7 allows you to shoot both raw and jpeg files in these modes (except for the fully-automated iAuto mode). This gives you so much flexibility. Any of the creative control effects will be applied to the jpeg file (only), and the raw file remains untouched and ready for your post-processing as you see fit. So, I can actually use the creative controls on the LX7 without feeling that I may be missing the shot.
The jpeg processing on the LX7 is a little harsh in my estimation. Therefore, having the unaffected raw files really means a lot to me.
I recently took the LX7 on a trip to California, where I visited Pioneertown, a true town constructed by movie producers to make Westerns. It's quite a funky little place out in the desert.
(Click Here) to read about Pioneertown.
I tried a few of the creative controls, and really decided that I like "Toy" mode. Here's an example.
In a Pear Tree?, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, Toy Setting
iso 125, f2.8, 1/125 sec
You can see that toy camera mode adds significant vignetting (darkening around the edges of the image), muted colors, and I think some loss of sharpness around the edges, while the center remains sharp. Kind of fun.
Here's one using the Impressive Art control:
Control, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, "Impressive Art" Setting
iso 160, f1.6, 1/60 sec

Here's another setting, called "Expressive Art."

Desert Office, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, "Expressive Art" Setting
iso 80, f2.8, 1/1600 sec
So far, I really like Toy mode best.
Desert Office 2, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, "Toy" Setting
iso 125, f2.8, 1/1600 sec
All of these images are jpegs, right out of the camera. The final two I decided to shoot in square format, another great setting on the LX7. No adjustments were made to any of these.
And, the great thing is, I have the raw files if I want to process them differently! Lots of fun.
As promised, I'm nearing completion of my ebook on the LX7. I'll be announcing it soon.
The best $298 (current price) you'll ever spend on photo equipment - please buy yours through this link: